Grinnell, IA
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Reviews 434 total reviews with an average rating of 3.7

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2 College Junior

Weather: The Weather at Grinnell is very unpredictable. It could snow one day and then be super warm the next with everyone wearing shorts. The wind is especially chilly.

3 College Junior

Off-Campus Dining: Check Out Downtown – Downtown is mostly where all the restaurants are. There isn't much variety but we have 2 Chinese and 2 Mexican restaurants. There is also a middle-eastern restaurant,Phoenix, and it's surprising to see this diversity of restaurants in a small town. However, as a student its not always easy to afford eating out at Phoenix and other fancier restaurants that do not necessarily cater to college students.

4 College Sophomore

Drug Safety: Its There If You Want but Not If You Don't. There is definitely a drug culture. On South Campus it is moderately more prevalent, however each side of campus has substance free dorms, and there is not a whole lot of judging from either perspective.

3 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Housing: Upperclassman Only – Only third and fourth years can live of campus, and even then its mostly just fourth years. But there are a few apartments and houses that people live in.

3 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Small Town, Lots of Potential – Grinnell Is a small town, but the college really tries to bring in as much "culture" as it can. The guest/visiting lecturers are great, and if you have an idea of something/someone you want to hear or experience the school works with the students.

3 College Sophomore

Transportation: Close Town – There is a shuttle that runs to the far away stores (Iowa City and Des Moines) every week. On breaks there are shuttles that run to the airport in Des Moines. In the town most people just walk, as it is just across the street from the campus.

4 College Sophomore

Parking: Cars Aren't a Must. Parking is pretty cheap and anyone can have a car. Plus parking is right by the dorms. Though it is definitely not necessary; town is really close and if you need to go some place a little further away someone will lend you their car. You definitely don't need to be driving to class.

4 College Sophomore

Nightlife: Make It What You Want – Most nightlife takes place on campus or in houses. The best thing is that you can really make of the night what you want. The school is great about providing concerts and entertainment options. However, if you'd rather hang with some friends and maybe have a few drinks thats always an option.

4 College Junior

Campus Strictness: Security Looks the Other Way – Security for the most part looks the other way, and when they do crack down the college's punishments are fairly lenient--favoring second chances.

4 College Junior

Facilities: Great for Small School – The new gym and swimming facility are state-of-the-art. The library has many nooks and crannies that are great for when you need to get away for that long paper. The campus is built for students who need space while also for students who work best with a little bustle around them.

4 College Junior

Computers: You don't need your own computer. The computer labs are always open and usually the printers have paper. There are tons of available computers in the science library, the general library, many academic buildings, and in several dorms.

3 College Junior

Athletics: Loved by Athletes, Ignored by Others – I'm not an athlete at Grinnell, but with around 40% of the student population involved in a varsity sport, many of my friends are. They seem to love the competition and staying in shape but also don't have to commit themselves too much, which would be tough to manage with Grinnell's rigorous academics anyway. The teams all have great community and seem to provide a built-in friend group for new first-years. Some teams, like football, cross-country, and swimming, are huge and almost comprise a miniature form of Greek life with their off-campus houses and weird rituals. Fan support is probably best for men's basketball, which plays a really entertaining style. Football usually isn't great but has been improving a lot lately and garnering more fan support. All conference games in major sports are broadcast on Midwest Conference TV over the web.

4 College Junior

Campus Housing: Good Options for All – A majority of freshmen will be housed in Norris, which is probably the lamest dorm on campus and is the farthest north (though distances are all relatively short on Grinnell's fairly small campus), but the old dorms of North and South Campuses all have great community and a lot of character. They aren't brand spankin' new like the sterile but comfy confines of East Campus, but there's always a lot to do with friends on your floor and the rooms are all somewhat different, so there's a lot of variety and you can create a very unique space for yourself. However, on-campus housing is pricey so most seniors choose to live off campus. Also, communal bathrooms are the norm so if you can't stand an occasionally gross bathroom, try to live in a Cowles apartment or a group draw so you can have your own.

3 College Freshman

Campus Dining: It's Mediocre – the dining hall has a a good number of options, but they are exactly the same from day to day. the entree is often mediocre and overall it's not amazing. that being said, it's not awful either. the vegan and vegetarian options are fairly good and i can always find something that is at least somewhat satisfying. you can also spend money at the Grill--an on-campus eatery that you can go to in loo of the d-hall--and Bob's Cafe--a small place that you can get bagels, coffee, etc.

3 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: It's Okay – In terms of fast food options, there is Tacobell, Taco John's, KFC, McDonald's, and Dairy Queen. My two favorite places that are only a 10 minute walk away are La Cabana Mexican Grill and Chuong's Chinese Food. They are both pretty cheap and laid back. Not much in terms of student discounts, but it starts inexpensive so a discount is not really necessary. In terms of variety, they are your classic Mexican and Chinese restaurants.

3 College Senior

Scholarships: Grinnell is traditionally viewed as one of the few schools that are need blind admissions. Obviously, from a business standpoint, Grinnell probably wants to give less and less financial aid. It is in my experience, over the last four years, that they are trying to attract students that require no financial aid-- for better or worse.

4 College Senior

Parking: Not Necessary! You don't need a car on campus!!!! There are plenty of people with cars that you can borrow from,
and campus security will drop you off and pick you off wherever you need to go if transportation is an absolute problem. There are a plethora of student parking that cost a low (<100/semester) rate !

3 College Senior

Local Atmosphere: Quaint and Isolated – Grinnell is a fairly small and isolated town in the heartland of Iowa. Grinnell College makes great leaps to try and bring activities and attractions to the school. Grinnell, due to its strong midwest ties, is extremely safe. Grinnell College does an extremely good job of forming new funded student groups or associations if there is more than two students on campus with similar interests to start the putative club. If you are of drinking age, there are a good amount of eclectic bars that could suit anyone's fancy. Overall, there is always something to do on campus or off-campus on everyday of the week. If you are looking for the "normal" college experience at a state school, you probably shouldn't go to Grinnell.

3 College Junior

Overall Experience: The Iowan winters really do affect the atmosphere of the college. It gets unbearably cold--coming from someone who lived in the tropics. The seasonal affectedness disorder is prevalent. However, the community becomes closer because of the doldrums you face. Grinnell has a great social atmosphere, almost everyone is respectful, curious, and kind.

2 College Junior

Nightlife: The town has a population of 9000--including the college! There are a few bars off campus that students go to, but they are fairly dive-ish. However, with Grinnell's self-governance system it isn't difficult to get alcohol on campus, most of the parties and such occur in the various dorms. The school also sponsors Friday and Saturday parties at concert venues around campus--notably, Harris parties.

5 College Junior

Academics: Grinnell is a tough school. The classes are difficult, but, since it is very small it is very easy to connect with professors daily. The profs chose Grinnell in order to be able to develop relationships with students. Also, due to the difficulty, I have not had a single class in Grinnell which hasn't influenced me, taught me, or guided me in some way. The assignments are all guided so that they not only reflect exactly what you have learnt, but they push you in delving further into the material. The academics have taught me to be a life-long learner.

3 Recent Alumnus

Drug Safety: Smelled but Not Seen – As a pretty asocial student who lived in sub-free for two years, I'm really not the best person to answer this question, but in certain places I came to associate weekends with the smell of pot.

4 Recent Alumnus

Facilities: Easygoing Social Atmosphere – Grinnell students tend to be a very proud, self-focused bunch, almost to the point of acting spoiled. The faculty are largely very approachable and eager to help and the campus administration is exceptionally receptive to student demands, from a very vocal student body. I know I definitely graduated with an inflated ego and sense of entitlement, and I got hit in the face pretty hard when I tried to find a job and realized there actually were a few "limits" to my broad, liberal arts degree.

But on the other hand, leaving Grinnell where I spent a lot of time griping about this and that has left me feeling nostalgic for the community. It's rare to live in a place, I've come to realize, where you can show up to class barefoot in the same sweatshirt you wore yesterday and still expect to be treated with fairness and respect. Grinnell is the kind of place where the cross country team can streak through the library and half of the patrons won't notice. Where the student center can be plastered with provocative posters detailing the upcoming festivities planned for "Love Your Body Week" and nobody screeches about public indecency. Students generally don't form cliques and student government will reward your ingenuity through generous funding.

2 Recent Alumnus

Athletics: Grinnell doesn't offer any athletic scholarships. Most people I knew took pride in how bad the football team was.

4 Recent Alumnus

Computers: 24-Hour Accessible Labs – I completely took the accessible computer labs for granted when I was a Grinnell student. At my current university, everything has to be kept locked or under paid supervision at all times, which means it's hard to find a printer after midnight.


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Overall ExperienceWhat's This?

Akshay Bajaj
Mumbai, India
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A vast majority of students loves Grinnell. They love the challenge they get from their academics and their peers, and they love the amount of freedom that the administration gives them (mostly through self-governance). Some students would say that they learn more from discussions amongst peers than classes. Grinnell students are free to learn and grow into responsible, conscientious adults, and the students are thankful that the school they’ve chosen gives them the opportunity to thrive. Some students can’t even imagine what it would be like if they’d ended up somewhere else.

Yeah, Grinnell students complain sometimes about the things that aren’t available to them that would be at their disposal at a larger, city school. They gripe about excess construction, bogus administration policies, and the things that fellow Grinnellians do that just plain bug everyone. Overall, though, most of the students are happy with the decisions they’ve made and the direction they’re going in their lives. A lot of students have the Grinnell faculty, students, and townspeople to thank for that. Although living in rural Iowa does take some getting used to (especially if you’re from out of state), most students don’t mind making Grinnell their home for four years. Despite the schizophrenic weather, lackluster athletic program, and the immature townies, many students have taken comfort in the fact that it’s “just us” amongst the cornstalks. When a Grinnell graduate thinks back upon his or her Grinnell experience and all the fond memories that come along with it, everything else seems like small potatoes.

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